In the world of fitness, there are a variety of movements and exercises that can seem intimidating or even impossible for beginners.
Handstand push-ups (HSPU) are a challenging calisthenics move that targets the upper body and core. But don't let that scare you off – even beginners can learn how to do them with a little practice.
In this post, we'll look at how to do handstand push-ups, a challenging bodyweight exercise that is definitely worth mastering.
We'll also provide tips and pointers on how to build up to performing HSPUs safely and effectively. So grab a mat and some chalk, and let's get started!
What is the Handstand Push-Up (HSPU)
Handstand push-ups, also known as HSPUs, are an advanced variation of the push-up that involves performing the exercise in an upside-down handstand while engaging the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and core to lift your body.
Handstand push-ups can be performed in different ways, the most common of which are kipping handstand push-ups and strict handstand push-ups. The details of this will be discussed shortly.
First, let’s look at how to build strength for Handstand push-ups. Before attempting a freestanding handstand push-up, complete some training exercises to increase strength and avoid injuries.
Attempt these three strategies:
Get familiar with executing and maintaining a handstand before completing a push-up. Use a wall to assist you in maintaining your position. To accomplish a handstand hold, push off the wall and hold it for as long as you can.
Assisted Handstand Push-Up
You may assist yourself while executing a handstand push-up by having a companion supporting your ankles. While you go through the whole range of motion, your partner will stabilize you.
Start with standing in a standard push-up stance with your back to a wall. Walk your hands backward while moving your feet up the wall until you are in a handstand posture. After maintaining the posture for a comfortable period, lower yourself again and repeat.
These tips will help you get familiar with the difficulty of a handstand pushup and help you prepare your mind for this movement.
How to Do a Handstand Push-Up
Start by doing 2-3 sets of 5–10 repetitions for the handstand pushup. Your ability to maintain proper technique throughout all sets and repetitions will determine your chosen sets and repetitions.
- Use momentum to kick your legs against the wall while keeping your hands a few inches off the surface. Set your heels on the wall and rise into a handstand. You can place a yoga mat below your head.
- In the handstand position, your hips should be slightly behind your shoulders, and your shoulders should be above your wrists. Your legs should be completely extended.
- To generate a solid upper body stance, press your hands firmly into the ground. Your chin should stay tucked throughout the motion as if you were clutching an egg beneath your chin. Your elbows should be pointing forward. Your upper arms and ears should be in line.
- Squeeze your glutes and quads while bringing your legs together.
- Activate your core. Your pelvis should be partially tucked in, and your ribs should be down.
- Bend your elbows and gently drop your head toward the workout mat while keeping a tight body stance and a strong core.
- Take a brief pause at the bottom position.
- Straighten your arms by pressing firmly into the ground as though you were driving a barbell above your head. Your shoulders should be turned upward as you extend your arms.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Benefits of the Handstand Push-Up
The handstand push-up is an excellent exercise for developing strength and definition in the shoulders, chest, arms, and core muscles. In addition, the handstand push-up is a great way to improve balance and coordination.
The following are some of the benefits of the handstand push-up:
Strengthens Shoulders, Chest, Arms & Core Muscles
The handstand push-up is an excellent exercise for developing strength and definition in the shoulders, chest, arms, and core muscles. This move requires you to support your body weight on your hands, forcing your muscles to work overtime. In addition, the handstand position also challenges your stabilizer muscles, resulting in a well-rounded workout.
Improves Balance and Coordination
The handstand push-up is a great way to improve balance and coordination. While the exercise may seem easy at first, it actually requires a great deal of core strength and coordination to perform correctly. You can help improve your overall balance and coordination by engaging your core muscles throughout the exercise.
Helps Improve Posture
The handstand push-up is a challenging exercise that can offer several benefits. In addition to strengthening the muscles that support the spine, handstand push-ups can also help to improve posture. This is because the exercise helps correct muscle imbalances around the shoulders and hips, which can lead to poor posture.
Additionally, handstand push-ups can help relieve some pressure off the spine. As a result, this exercise is an excellent way to improve posture and reduce back pain.
May Help Prevent Injuries
The handstand push-up is a great exercise for strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the joints. The handstand push-up requires you to use your body weight to push up from a handstand position. This helps strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
In addition, the handstand push-up helps increase flexibility in the joints. As a result, this exercise can help you avoid injuries by improving joint function and range of motion.
May Help Improve Brain Function
While the benefits of handstand push-ups are mainly physical, there is some evidence to suggest that they may also help improve brain function.
When blood flow to the brain is increased, it can result in better memory and thinking. In addition, the increased pressure on the head during handstand push-ups may help stimulate the release of chemicals that promote nerve growth. While more research is needed to confirm these benefits, handstand push-ups may be a helpful way to keep both your body and your mind in good shape.
Variations of the Handstand Push-Up
Handstand Push-Up has many variations following are some of the most common Handstand Push-Up variations:
Deficit Kipping Handstand Push-Up
Deficit kipping handstand push-ups are a type of movement often seen in CrossFit and other strength-training workouts. They are challenging moves that can help build upper-body strength, coordination, and balance.
- To perform a kipping handstand push-up, start in a handstand position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet together.
- From there, lower your head towards the floor and then explosively push back up to the starting position.
- The movement's momentum should help you “kip” or swing your legs forward and up over your head.
- As you swing your legs forward, tuck your chin to ensure that you rotate around your hands without hitting your head on the floor.
A deficit kipping handstand push-up is a challenging move that can be very rewarding when done correctly. With practice, they can help you develop the strength and coordination needed to perform traditional handstand push-ups.
Strict Handstand Push-Up
The Strict Handstand Push-Up is a demanding exercise that targets the shoulders, chest, and arms muscles.
- To perform the exercise, begin in a handstand position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet elevated.
- Slowly lower your body towards the floor until your head is inches from the ground. Then, press back up to the starting position.
- The key to this exercise's success is maintaining a strict posture throughout the movement. Be careful not to arch your back or let your hips sag; keep your body straight from head to toe.
Handstand push-ups are a technically challenging exercise with a large margin of error. Even though the following errors are more noticeable while doing kipping handstand push-ups, they are just as problematic when doing regular handstand push-ups.
You should keep your spine in a neutral position the whole time. Lower back hyperextension, indicated by an arched back or flared ribs, is associated with an increased risk of injury and pain.
Kicking the Wall
Some individuals find it difficult to do handstand push-ups with little horizontal movement. You may be making unnecessary lateral movements, such as rocking back and forth, if you keep bouncing off the wall as you climb it because your heels kick it. The movement pattern may be kept absolutely vertical by tightening the core and glutes.
Pushing Away From the Wall
Falling over at the peak of each rep is a sign that you are hyperextending your spine. Pushing away from the wall is a popular technique used by exhausted individuals; it's analogous to arching the back during an overhead barbell press. Once again, the remedy to this typical error is to focus on your resources.
In most cases, this happens when individuals attempt handstand push-ups before being physically and mentally prepared to do so safely. But even seasoned athletes are vulnerable to this issue when their muscles get fatigued.
If you lose control of your fall, you risk injuring your neck or sustaining a concussion, at the least.
Arms Too Wide or Narrow
The secret to doing push-ups from a handstand is figuring out where to put your hands. Because of the inefficiency of the motion, more effort is required if the hands are placed too far apart or too close together. See what works best by trying out different hand positions.
Safety and Precautions
Before starting an exercise routine, you should check in with your primary care provider if you have a history of or now suffer from a health problem. It is vital to do exercises correctly to guarantee the safety and efficacy of an exercise program; nevertheless, depending on your specific requirements, you may need to alter each exercise to get the best possible results.
Always choose a weight that gives you complete control over your body throughout the exercise. This should be the guiding principle behind your weight selection. When engaging in any kind of physical activity, it is important to pay great attention to your body and to stop immediately if you experience any pain or discomfort.
Incorporating the appropriate amounts of warm-ups, rest, and nourishment into your training routine will allow you to observe consistent growth and increase the strength of your body.
Your capacity to recuperate from your exercises promptly will ultimately determine the extent to which you see improvements. Before working for the same muscle groups again, give yourself between 24 and 48 hours of rest. This will allow for adequate healing.
1. What Muscles Do HSPU Work?
HSPUs work the same muscles as regular push-ups but also target your shoulders and triceps more specifically. As a result, HSPUs are great for building upper body strength.
2. How Do I Begin Doing HSPUs?
If you're new to HSPUs, start doing them against a wall. Once you get the hang of it, you can try doing them without the wall for added challenge.
3. Are There Any Variations of HSPUs?
Yes! There are quite a few variations of HSPUs that you can try. For example, you can regress them by doing it with your feet on an elevated surface. You can also progress things by wearing a weighted vest or holding a dumbbell in each hand to create a deficit.
4. How should I position my hands?
Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, with your palms flat on the ground and your fingers pointing toward your feet. It's important to keep your body straight from your head to your heels, so make sure that your hips aren't sagging and your legs are fully extended. In addition, keep your gaze fixed on a point on the ground about a foot in front of you to help maintain balance.
5. What if I can't hold a handstand for more than a few seconds?
If you're new to handstands, it's normal not to be able to hold the position for more than a few seconds at first. The key is to keep practicing! As you get stronger, you'll be able to hold the position for longer. In addition, try kicking up into a handstand against a wall — this will give you some extra support and make it easier to balance.
The Bottom Line
Handstand push-ups are a great exercise for strength, coordination, and balance. When first starting, be sure to build up your strength with other exercises such as handstand holds and assisted handstand push-ups. Remember to maintain good form when performing handstand push-ups by keeping your body straight and avoiding common mistakes. As with any physical activity, focus on proper technique and safety first and foremost.